Quelle Chris – Biography, Career and Songs

Gavin Christopher Tennille, known professionally as Quelle Chris, is a record producer, rapper, and songwriter. With a career spanning over a decade, he has amassed a discography of more than 15 albums, both as a solo artist and through collaborative endeavors.

Quelle Chris is widely regarded as a devoted student of Detroit hip hop, drawing inspiration from the rich musical heritage of his hometown. He is known for his ability to traverse multiple genres, showcasing his talents in punk rock, poetry, abstract soul, and both instrumental and vocal hip-hop.

Although Quelle Chris has been crafting sharp and accomplished albums since the early 2010s, it was towards the end of the decade that he began to garner increased recognition. His releases, such as “Shotgun & Sleek Rifle” in 2011, laid the foundation for his growing acclaim. However, it was projects like “Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often” in 2017 and “Everything’s Fine,” a collaborative effort with longtime partner Jean Grae in 2018, that catapulted him into the spotlight.

Building on this momentum, Quelle Chris continued to make waves with albums like “Guns” in 2019 and “Deathfame” in 2022, delving into topical themes and showcasing his versatility as an artist. Additionally, he collaborated with fellow musicians such as Chris Keys and Homeboy Sandman, further solidifying his reputation as a dynamic force in the music industry.

Early Life

Born on October 19, 1984, in Johnson City, New York, Quelle Chris, comes from a lineage deeply rooted in Detroit. Despite his family’s frequent relocations due to his father’s profession as a shoe designer, Detroit holds a special place in his heart as his true home. Throughout his upbringing, he also spent time residing in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Oakland.

Quelle’s musical journey began to take shape during his high school years, where he found his passion for music through early experimentation. It was during this time that he discovered his talent as both a rapper and a producer. In the vibrant landscape of Detroit’s music scene in the mid-2000s, Quelle found guidance and support from influential figures such as DJ Houseshoes and the rap group Wasted Youth.

His entry into the music scene gained momentum as a member of Wasted Youth, a group that attracted attention from prominent figures in Detroit hip-hop like J Dilla and Proof. Building on this foundation, Tennille went on to form Crown Nation with Denmark Vessey and explored his artistry under various aliases such as Q-Life and simply Quelle. He released a compilation of early works titled “Blue Mondays” and made significant contributions as a producer on Danny Brown’s early albums. Through these experiences, Quelle Chris solidified his presence in the music industry and established himself as a multifaceted artist with a unique perspective.


Around 2011, Gavin Christopher Tennille settled on the name Quelle Chris and embarked on his solo career. His debut studio album, “Shotgun & Sleek Rifle,” was released that same year, boasting collaborations with notable artists like Danny Brown, Roc Marciano, and Big Tone. Following this release, he inked a deal with Mello Music Group, a partnership that blossomed after Tennille had already dropped two EPs with Racehorses are Resources, a musical endeavor that included poet John Sinclair.

Under Mello Music Group, Tennille continued to make waves in the music scene, with the single “Rappin Ass” and studio albums like “Niggas Is Men” and “Ghost at the Finish Line” hitting the airwaves in 2013. During this time, he also lent his production talents to esteemed musicians such as Pharoahe Monch, Diamond District, and Open Mike Eagle.

In subsequent years, Quelle Chris continued to showcase his versatility and creativity with releases like his fourth studio album, “Innocent Country,” in 2015, and the instrumental album “Lullabies for the Broken Brain” in 2016. His fifth studio album, “Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often,” dropped in 2017, featuring guest appearances and production contributions from artists like Jean Grae, Mndsgn, and Suzi Analogue. Describing the album as a reflection on the human experience, Tennille emphasized its exploration of greatness, flaws, and individuality.

On March 30, 2018, Gavin Christopher Tennille, in collaboration with his life partner Jean Grae, released their debut collaborative album, “Everything’s Fine,” under the Mello Music Group label. This project, featuring guest appearances from rappers like Your Old Droog and Denmark Vessey, as well as comedians such as John Hodgman and Hannibal Buress, delved into societal issues such as stereotypes, police brutality, and anxiety.

Following the success of “Everything’s Fine,” Tennille continued to make waves with his solo endeavors. On March 29, 2019, he released his acclaimed sixth solo album, “Guns,” a poignant exploration of themes related to gun violence and white supremacy.

On March 16, 2020, Tennille treated fans to his seventh solo album, “Innocent Country 2,” a collaborative effort with Chris Keys, serving as a sequel to their 2015 project. Boasting an impressive lineup of guest appearances including Earl Sweatshirt, Billy Woods, Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards, and more, the album garnered widespread acclaim. Prior to its release, a vinyl issue of the original “Innocent Country” was made available, previously only accessible digitally. Additionally, Tennille showcased his production skills by collaborating with Homeboy Sandman on his album “Don’t Feed the Monster” and contributing music to the acclaimed 2021 film “Judas and the Black Messiah.”

Tennille further released his seventh album, “Deathfame,” on May 13, 2022. This 14-track project, primarily produced by Tennille himself, along with Chris Keys and Knxwledge, showcased his continued evolution as a musician and storyteller.

Personal Life

In December 2017, Quelle Chris proposed to his long-time partner and frequent collaborator, Jean Grae, an American rapper. The proposal took place during a vacation in Barbados, three months before the release of their first collaborative full-length album, “Everything’s Fine,” in March 2018. The couple tied the knot on August 5, 2018, marking the beginning of their married life together.

Jean Grae, born Tsidi Ibrahim, entered the world on November 26, 1976, in Cape Town, South Africa. She is the offspring of South African jazz musicians Sathima Bea Benjamin and Abdullah Ibrahim. After her birth, the family relocated to New York City, where Jean spent her formative years. She pursued her education at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, focusing on Vocal Performance, before furthering her studies in Music Business at New York University.


2011 – Shotgun & Sleek Rifle

2013 – Ghost at the Finish Line

2015 – Innocent Country (with Chris Keys)

2016 – Lullabies for the Broken Brain

2017 – Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often

2018 – Everything’s Fine (with Jean Grae)

2019 – Guns

2020 – Innocent Country 2 (with Chris Keys)

2022 – Deathfame

2022 – Death Tape 1: Black Cottonwood (with Cavalier)